71 Percent of Likely Voters Ages 18-34 Support Action to Cancel Some or All Student Debt for All Borrowers; Younger Voters with No Debt Support Broad Debt Cancellation By a 3:1 Margin
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to new polling data released today, a large, bipartisan majority of younger likely voters support action to cancel student debt. Today’s data, the latest from a series of tracking polls by the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and Data for Progress (DfP), finds that, among voters ages 18 to 34, action to cancel student debt is exceptionally popular—supported by a lopsided 71 percent majority and opposed by just 18 percent of younger likely voters. Younger likely voters show overwhelming support for action to cancel student debt regardless of whether they have student debt themselves: 66 percent of younger likely voters with no student debt support broad student debt relief, as do 81 percent of those with debt.
Strong support among younger likely voters extends across party lines: 56 percent of younger Republicans, 66 percent of younger independents, and 84 percent of younger Democrats support action to cancel some or all debt for all student loan borrowers.
“Younger voters put Joe Biden in the White House on the promise of broad relief from the crushing burden of student debt,” said Mike Pierce, executive director of Student Borrower Protection Center. “As the country recovers from a devastating pandemic and economic crisis, younger voters across the political spectrum are clear in their expectations for the Biden-Harris administration: building back better means canceling student debt for all borrowers.”
During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden promised to cancel “a minimum of $10,000” worth of student debt for every borrower, and provide complete debt relief for undergraduate debt owed by most borrowers who went to public colleges or minority-serving institutions. Since that time, a series of press reports indicate that President Biden is weighing options to cancel some or all student debt for people who owe federal student loans.
As President Biden considers how much debt to cancel, today’s poll shows emerging support among younger likely voters for action to cancel all student loan debt for every borrower. Nearly 1-in-5 younger Republicans, more than 1-in-4 younger independents, and nearly half of younger Democrats want Joe Biden to cancel all student loan debt for every borrower.
From March 17 to May 3, 2022, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 664 likely voters ages 18 to 34 nationally using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.
There is a growing consensus among experts, scholars, and lawmakers that the President has the legal authority to cancel student debt without any additional action by Congress. One year ago, President Biden instructed the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education to determine whether such an action can be taken legally. A review of the President’s authority is reportedly complete, but has not been released to the public.
In April 2021, Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, Student Borrower Protection Center, Student Debt Crisis, and Young Invincibles led a coalition of more than 415 labor, civil rights, consumer, student, veterans, disability, and professional organizations in urging President Biden to take executive action and cancel student debt for everyone.
No student loan borrower with a federally-held loan has been required to make a student loan payment since March 2020 when former President Trump signed the CARES Act, pausing student loan payments and suspending interest charges for tens of millions of student loan borrowers. This set of protections was extended via executive actions taken in August 2020, December 2020, January 2021, August 2021, December 2021, and April 2022. However, these protections are set to expire with payments to resume for federal student loans on August 31, 2022.
About Data for Progress
Data for Progress is a progressive think tank and polling firm which arms movements with data-driven tools to fight for a more equitable future. DFP provides polling, data-based messaging, and policy generation for the progressive movement, and advises campaigns and candidates with the tools they need to win. DFP polling is regularly cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CBS News, and hundreds of other trusted news organizations.
About Student Borrower Protection Center
Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.